The Russians continue to grind slowly ahead:
Pudding Brain banned the import of Russian oil without, of course, any effort to ramp up American production: no, he’s going hat in hand to Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia to beg them to boost production. This does require him to lift the sanctions on Venezuelan oil. I guess this means that whether or not you’re a bad guy depends on the Narrative of the Moment. And right now that Narrative is Putin Bad.
Read that a restaurant in Brazil will stop offering Beef Stroganoff. This is ridiculous. But, also, think about it: this level of xenophobia against Russians has been generated globally and in mere weeks. And you know they can turn this on anyone who displeases them. Heck, we already saw it: they turned it on Trump and got the whole world to hate him. I mean, the whole world open to Western propaganda, that is. Places where this is lacking or where there remains independent press were more friendly to Trump (India, Israel, eg).
It occurred to me that while Putin is in the wrong – starting hostilities unless you are faced with obvious and imminent attack is morally wrong – we are not looking at it from his perspective. And I thought we were always supposed to do that? I guess not. At least, not in come cases. But Putin’s perspective is Russian. This doesn’t make it right, but it does make it something we should understand.
First thing: that massive nation we can see on the map looming over Europe and Asia looks a lot different from the inside. It is all frontier. Vulnerable frontier. Open to attack at scores of points at any given time. And then outside the Urals and the Volga River, Russia lacks any obvious defensive line: it is all flat, open country easy to traverse by an enemy.
Second, there have been attempts to conquer Russia from Europe. The most recent is the most telling, but prior to it there were French, Swedish and Polish efforts along these lines. Russians don’t see Europe as the home of brothers and sisters…but rather as the home of rapacious conquerors who must be kept at bay.
Third, the Russians don’t see the Ukrainians as a different nation. It was called “little Russia” in Imperial times. Here:
That is a 1904 map. And I’m not saying the Russians are right nor that Ukrainians don’t have a right to be – just pointing out relevant historic facts. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you and I believe about it – in this case, the crucial person is Putin and what he believes. And I read his article just before the war: he asserts very firmly that Ukrainians are Russians. And he further believes that the only reason there is a Ukrainian identity apart from Russia is because of influence peddling from the West. Also, he’s probably only barely heard of Stalin’s famine in the area (its not like Soviet textbooks covered it when Putin was growing up); and even if he did, he would probably view it as a sad necessity. Ukraine was liberated from the Muslims by Russians. Kiev is the cradle of Russian civilization. The Battle of Poltava which secured Russia as a Great Power was fought in Ukraine. In other words, there are solid reasons for the Russians to believe what they believe.
Anyways, that would be the Russian perspective – and now add to it the entire world becoming overtly hostile not just to Putin, but to Russians and all things Russian, and you’ve got the perfect potion to turn even Putin-doubters into loyalists.
It ain’t just oil – Russia and Ukraine both provide a lot of wheat on the global market. We here in the USA will be fine – I’m confident our wheat and corn farmers can see how things are going and are doing what they can to maximize production. But for the poor in Africa and Asia, this could spell famine.
Ilhan Omar (D-MN) made a statement against cancel culture a few weeks back and I was all, “busted clock, twice a day”. Well, the “twice” just happened when she pointed out the risks of willy-nilly flooding Ukraine with weapons without accountability and the presence of militia groups of, shall we say?, questionable loyalty. If she’s right about a third thing, I’ll faint dead away. What you’ll find strange (ie, not strange at all) is that the MSM seems to have forgotten to cover Omar’s statement on this. Almost like she went off script and is, at least temporarily, aligned with White Supremacy or some such.